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Not every Taliban is an extremist ally: US

By Lalit K Jha
October 16, 2009 11:26 IST
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Taliban's 'main leadership' is based in Pakistan and sending militants across the border for attacks in Afghanistan where the Indian embassy and UN agencies were among those targeted, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

'The main leadership of the Taliban that is allied with Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan. Now, they send people across the border. They help to fund the Taliban extremists who are, you know, more associated with Al-Qaeda than indigenous groups,' Clinton told ABC News in an interview.

Taliban in Afghanistan are fighting because they get paid to fight, she said.  

'They have no other way of making a living. You have got a very poor population in general,' Clinton said, adding they get paid more to be in the Taliban than they get paid to be as a local police officer.

Also, there are all kinds of internal conflicts in Afghanistan between certain tribal groups or ethnic groups who find it opportunistic to ally with the Taliban, she said.

'They are very conservative. They share a lot of the same, you know, moral or social values. But they are not a direct threat to us.'

'But then there are those who are targeting American soldiers, who are targeting, you know, United Nations or the Indian embassy or all kinds of other targets. So one of the reasons why I think this review (of the regional policy) that the (US) President has directed is so important, we are trying to sort out who is the real enemy,' Clinton said.

The goal of the Obama Administration is to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies. 'But not every Taliban is an extremist ally. So that's what we are trying to make clear, both in our understanding and in our actions,' the Secretary of State said.

Referring to the ongoing review of the Af-Pak strategy being conducted by President Barack Obama, Clinton said there are many options and there are all kinds of approaches that are being presented and considered.

'And it is also not just about troops (for increasing their number). It is about what we do to, you know, work more effectively with not just the government of Afghanistan, but the people of Afghanistan, what we do to create a better situation in Pakistan. I mean, so it is much more complex than that,' Clinton said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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